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Effexor XR: Life without it...
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Effexor XR: Life without it...

Today, I decided to do a search on the side effects when coming off Effexor XR...so here I am.
I started taking Effexor XR in the fall of 2001.  The doctor that put me on it was a joke - he tried other stuff, finally putting me on Effexor and when it showed signs of working, he just kept increasing my dosage.  Not knowing enough to advocate for myself (and half admitting that I was feeling better), I ended up on 300ml/daily.  That was almost 3 1/2 years ago.
Yes, it was alot of meds and whenever I tried (with dr supervision) to come off it, I would have wicked side effects: anger, crying, violence (never acted on it but sure wanted too!), anxiety.  Worse part of everything was when I was on the meds, I couldn't sleep and had to treat that with more med.  Finally I said enough was enough and took things into my own hands.
Lucky for me I moved away from the "diagnoising doctor" and found some great help where I currently live.  It has been a huge stuggle coming off the meds, but I am happy to say that it has been about 4 weeks since I have stopped.  I didn't stop cold turkey - came off the meds gradually...but when I did finally get down to 75ml, after a month I just quit.
So here is why I am writing.  After reading though most of the postings about this drug, I see now that my syptoms (symptoms) of withdrawal are common.  It is good to know that I am not losing my mind.  I have suffered from halluciantions (thinking someone was in my apartment at night and freaking out), feeling "stoned" at work where I can't remember what I have to do or what is going on at that moment, and extreme sensitivity in emotional situations (my way of saying I cry watching a deodorant commercial).  Lucky for me I don't drive often because I fear that I would not be safe on the road. But there is one thing that I have been going through since discontinueing - even since I started coming off the drug - that is what has me extremely worried.
In the past week I have gained 10 pounds...and over the past three months I have gained a total of 35 pounds.  I don't eat terribly keeping my caloric intake to no more than 1700/day, not bad enough to put 10 pounds on in a week.  And I am starting to freak out!  Has anyone else had this problem when coming off the drug?  It has been suggested that it might have come on so fast because I was on such a high dosage for as long as I was...but it has put me in a situation where I can't wear any of the clothing I own!  And when will it stop or am I just going to be huge for the rest of my life!?
I have every intention of getting in touch with my doctor on Monday to see if I can get test done to rule out other things, but I want to know if other have suffered from this type of thing after being on Effexor.  
Someone help...if anything can throw a person back into depression, it is not feeling comfortable in my own body!
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You have to make sure that your weight gain is fat gain or water retention, if in fact, your caloric intake is as low as you think.  Its impossible to gain real fat without an excess of calories so be sure that you are counting everything. The other explanation is that the emotions of withdrawal sometimes lead you to change of your regular habits, i.e. caloric expenditure.  Have you been exercising less or been sedentary more.  The other explanation is a consequence of large doses for a long time since the appetite hormones are regulated in part by the dopamine, and serotonin, which are the targets of Effexor.

This will not be a lifetime pattern and you will get over it.  If it is an emotional eating issue...eating as a form of self medication, then go to www.masteringfood.com
42 Comments
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I never been on effexor but been on alprazolam(xanax) for 14+ years mostly on 0.25 3x a day and up to 0.5 3x a day for 3 months. I have been weaning off since the middle of April down to 0.25 1 x a day and I gained about 14 pounds so far hope I don't gain more. I don't seem to be eating anymore then before.
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I forgot to bring my meds on a trip.  After the first 24 hours anxiety rose, depression and aggression set in, I was starting to be incoherent in thought and action.  The second day I was looking for a job and went off on one of the prospective bosses who had sent me on a wild goose chase.  At another interview I talked like I was nuts.  I knew what I wanted to say but it wasn't coming out.  The prospective boss must have figured there was a problem and I didn't get even a return call or email that had been promised for that afternoon.  That night the world caved in--but I held it back.  By the next morning I knew I was within an hour of doing something fatal.  I drove to a hospital and completely fell apart at the gate in my car.  I was crying and yelling uncontrollably.  I was basically nuts and beyond any self-control. The security people called for a crash crew and they took me to the ward then to a larger hospital.  I had the greatest mental crisis of my life.  Don't try coming off the meds on your own and don't forget to take them with you, briefcase, center console, wherever they can be one step ahead in case you forget.
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I am 7 days off of Effexor now and am experiencing some frightening things.  I am hot, I am cold, my eyes burn, my back aches,my head aches, I am constantly hungry, I am nauseaus 24-7, I am constipated, I am dizzy, I have vertigo and what feels like electrical shocks running through my head, neck and limbs. Does anyone know how long these withdrawal symptoms will last.  I have several events planned for late July & early August and wonder if I should cancel or reschedule.  This is one scary drug.
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Hi,

When the doc took me off effexor he weaned me down on half doses (75mg) per day and built me up on zoloft (50mg) per day.  I experienced sadness, frustration, and sort of uncontrolled anger expressed quite loudly at work during the week ahead but as I started zoloft full dose a week later the withdrawal went away.  This doesn't mean it works for everyone but that's how it went for me.  Coming off effexor is definitely a withdrawal in every sense.  You might want to check with the doc or a different doc so they can reduce the effects you are experiencing. Feel better. boxcar.
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My doctor weaned me also (over a period of about 4 weeks) in addition to starting a substantial dose of welbutrin & still I'm going crazy.  I see her tomorrow so maybe will have something to contribute.  A crying jag started today and I am not a crier. It seems that the tiredness comes in waves and a spurt of energy (an hour or two) enables me to accomplish a few things before complete exhaustion sets in again.  It's impossible to explain to friends and family although my husband is the one who figured out that it was the withdrawal that was wrong with me. I'll report back after seeing my doctor tomorrow if I have any thing of value or help to offer.
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Here's a good one.  I saw my doctor today because of the severe withdrawal symtons I was having from Effexor.  Her solution, go back on effexor.  What part of this scenario am I or is She not getting?  When I refused to put that drug into my system again, she then suggesteed Cymbalta. And guess what, after reading all about Cymbalta, it seems that it is not much different from Effexor. ???  I'm not going there!
I am taking matters into my own hands and staying off the antidepressants for the time being.  I will ride out the withdrawal with the help of vitamins, xanax, water and time.  The xanax seems to help relax,  to sleep and just deal with the nuttiness a little more effectively.  Will keep you posted on the progress.
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Hi Marciand,

Good for you!  The xanax may help you a lot during this transition as might staying away from caffeine and chocolate.  The key downs for me were crying, sadness, suicidal thoughts, increased anger and hostility to anyone, and outright expressed rage.  Keep posting as folks may be able to provide some morale support.  You're being brave by going through the withdrawal.  Stay well.  boxcar.
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It's day 10 of my effexor withdrawal and I'm not really feeling any mental or emotional upheaval (oddly enough).  I'm just plain physically sick with the nausea and dizziness mostly.  Anyway, I've done some research on an essential amino acid called L-trytophen that supposed to have some regulating properties for the seratonin level in the brain. I suppopse that if we are not getting enough of it in our diets, then supplements are available. Not sure of all the details yet but I'm considering it as an alternative to Pramaceuticals.  Lots of water seems to help and snacking every two hours or so rather than regular meals. And just plain lying down and resting whenever it gets beyond my threshold to cope.
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Long before Pfizer and Merck people successfully used certain herbs as medicines.  Maybe this drug you've researched will help.
As your system flushes out the anti-depressant perhaps the nausea will decrease.  These meds have all sorts of side effects and perhaps someone reading this column will have experienced your same exact situation and will be able to help.  Have you posted a question on the new med you found for the on-line MDs for Medhelp.org?  They may have some knowledge of its use and can help you with it.
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OH I know the nausea.. it is a curse.. constant nausea.. horrid.
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I have been coming off effexor for about 2 weeks i was on 375mg a day so its been a long process. i took my last tablet monday, its now thurs and i've had the worst 3 days of my life. at first i just thought i was coming dowm with the flu, i was experiencing severe dizziness and nausea. after 2 visits to the doctor in 2 days, they finally told me i was having withdrawal from effexor. i've had constant dizziness, nausea, vommiting, tiredness(but i can't sleep) i've been down, and i just havent known what to do with myself. almost feels like i'm going crazy. My doctor didn't tell me i would feel this, she just told me i might be a bit down the first 3 days i wasn't on anything. I haven't been able to work or do anything really.
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I'm trying to remove this evil drug from my life forever. i never needed it in the first place. Just didn't have the nuts to stand up to my family when they asked my docter to medicate me. This was years ago when I was a teenager.
Now I am an adult and realize how my precription drug addicted grandmother manipulated me into taking anti depressants.

As far as withdrawl (withdrawal),
The only thing that seems to work for me is to sleep through it. The problem is that I will sleep for like 20 hours a day, (not an exageration) and this is not an exceptalbe option with me needing to provide for my family.

Has anyone found anything that helps with coping with the withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms?

I am into it about five days cold turkey 150 mg XR. Yes I realize how extreme this attempt is but I am out of medication and cannot afford to replace it for the sake of weening.
If I don't make a decision soon I may loose my job. And another semester of college is starting in two weeks and I will need to have mental clarity.
Please exuse any spelling or grammatical errors in the compsoosition of this writing, I am typically very good with words and am an engilesh major. But I am not feeling as well as when I started composing this posting and
I can't type any more I am to dizzy. I will update you later if anything wonderful happens.
I hate this stupid drug.
jon
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You will all be pleased to know that I have decided to take things a little slower.

After nearly wrecking on my motercycle on the way home from work I have changed my mind about doing this cold turkey.

My plan is to refill my prescription, and slowly ween myself off the drug. I intend to open up each capsule and remove a total of five of the little balls of medication daily (increasing the amount removed by five daily). Someone else who posted on this forum had luck with this method.

The stakes are simply too high to play around with cold turkey on this type of drug. True, this will prove to be expensive for the medication, but I think that it is the only way to escape at this point, I'm just too deep into the game.

Oh, a side note, wellbuterin seems to counter act the sexual side effects of effexor. Of course avoiding effexor all together is a much better solution to the problem.

My heart goes out to anyone trying to cope with the problems that they experience from being misdiagnosed and mismedicated.

May God be with you,
Jon
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YIKES!! I've been on effexor xr for approx 2 yrs. I had no clue there was such a withdrawal effect. Reading all of your comments is eye opening!!! While vacationing this summer I had enough effexor xr for all but 1 day. I attributed the crying to lack of sleep from vacationing, perhaps too much partying etc. But, it sounds like I was having the same symptons you all were describing about withdrawal. YIKES!!!!! Plus......the weight gain while on the med is NOT GOOD!! I've been wanting to go off this med.
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I stopped taking Effexor 11 days ago. The first day after taking the last & lowest dose, I started feeling nauseous and dizzy. Each day seemed to get worse. Then a couple of days after that, I started having mild panic attacks. I get sweaty, my heart beats faster, my breathing is short, and I want to cry. Now I am so depressed. I feel just like I felt before I took antidepressants. No one can tell me how long it will last. I'm so afraid these symptoms will never go away. I got off the medicine because I felt stronger and happy. I am about to start a new school year & was about to move in with my boyfriend. Now I'm so afraid I won't make it through another school year & I am waiting to move. My suggestion to anyone is stay away from effexor. If you are already taking it and want to get off of it, don't stop cold turkey, pick a time when you have a couple of weeks not to worry about major decisions in your life, go to counseling, and let your family and friends know so they can help & support you. I have to constantly be reminded that I am having withdrawal symptoms and one day they will end.
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Hi: I have been having itching of my legs, particularly the lower front and backs. Perhaps this is a side effect of effexor xr. I do know this is driving me crazy. No rash (unless I scratch too vigorously) to speak of. Hopefully, someone can give insight to this itching. Bumble : )
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I just stopped taking Effexor about 2 weeks ago after 6 months of use. I decreased my dose slowly over 2 weeks before completely stopping. At first my body reacted to the corresponding decrease in seritonin by giving me adrenaline rushes during the day, I would like conk out when I'd come home from work and sleep until the next morning, then things started to stablize.

Lately I feel kind of anxious, but mostly because I am going back to school after taking a semester off and am moving into a new place. Also, I do cry at weird times- I'm usually pretty involved when it comes to feeling compassionate to suffering I see on TV or read in magazines, but crying over an ad about America's glory is not my idea of normal patriotism. But, I expect that to go away.

I also had a similar problem with being "prescribed." My mother is a drug rep for Wyeth, the company that makes effexor XR. I went through a really traumatic breakup, returned from my first trip abroad, and went back to my grueling college all within a one week span. Is this something that should merit drugs? No, I think not. Real human emotions happen and they are to be experience. I know that know and I wish I knew that then and simply accepted the hurt so I could work through it. Now it's 10 months later I'm just getting over it after stopping the meds. I feel almost as if they kept me in an emotional vaccuum disallowing me to experience things as they really were and thus inhibiting my ability to work through life. So, I stopped taking them and I don't believe in them.

Because I have all the material for Effexor at my disposal right in my own house and my mom knows the drugs inside out, I know that one of the side-affects of TAKING the drug is that you will lose weight, something having to do with metabolism. When you come off it you will most likely experience some weight gain as your body readjusts. But I'm totally confident that you will readjust. Your body adjusting to the drug, and it will adjust away from it.

My suggestion is that when you feel anxious, sad, etc. you can first turn inwards and really ask why you feel that, and see if it is because of the chemicals (which you can then dismiss as being a false feeling, it still *****, but if you know it's false then you can do you best to control it and are less likely to act on it) or something you that really feel- in which case you can work it out through self-analysis, meditation, writing, talking to a close friend, etc. I know a lot of my anxiety was brought on because of my over active mind and my lack of self-control.

Secondly, excercise is excellent for eradicating effexor. I have started studying Buddhism, Karate, and Yoga and they have inhanced my concentration and determination to beat this stuff without meds and to come through withdrawal with flying colors. Everyone's problem is unique but I firmly believe that mental, spiritual, and physical excercised combined definitely helps. Just try to stay busy, excercise, drink lots of water, and around people you love, and let them know what you are experiencing so they can help you. Good luck to you.
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Hi: I enjoyed reading your good info. Thanks! Are the effects of withdrawl (withdrawal) itching of legs, seems like you have lots of info. Thanks. Also....motion sickness pills seem to help in the mean time for the dizzy feelings.
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I have been on Effexor XR since about April. I was on Lexapro before that and the withdrawal syndrome was unlike anything i've ever experienced. I can not afford the Effexor and because i had to evacuate to Houston, when the hurricane came through New Orleans i was not able to refill my prescription. I have been off for about 5 days now and i am experiencing the same side effects; nervousness, twitching, when i move my eyes it feels like an electrical shock in my head and i can hear my eyes move. How long is this supposed to last for? I don't want to go back on anything. I do have some welbutrin in the house, can i use that to counter these effects? What is a good way to counter these effects until the withdrawal syndrome is over. I start an internship on Wednesday and it will require me looking at a computer screen for very long periods of time. Any help would be much appreciated and as soon as possible.
thanks,
Jay
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greetings to all! so very glad I found this forum.
        today is Day ONE for me
- trying to self-wean off of this horrid drug.
I have been on 150mg a day of XR for almost one year.
Yes, it did help me extremely thru some really, really rough times but now I believe the negative side effects outweigh the positive. (Also, no more insurance...)
I have not been able to sleep, the weight gain is disgusting,
but one of the worst side effects (and this is very hard to admit) is that this crazy drug makes me actually "crave" alcohol.
That was even hard to type :(
Am I the only one?
I want to get away from the E XR Monster.
So; I have chosen to try 75mg a day for 2 weeks and then 37.5mg a day for two weeks - Any advice on this logic? Any success stories out there?
Also interested in which vitamins might help.
Thanks to all & God bless
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I successfully weaned off of 150/75 Effexor with the help of a psychiatrist.  (My PCP was no help, he said I should just stop taking it and I'd be fine).  The psychiatrist had me take Prozac for about a week and a half after I stopped the Effexor.  Prozac takes several weeks to "wash out" of the body, so it really helps with the withdrawal effects.  I had some diarrhea for a few days, but none of the dizziness or fuzzy-headedness that I'd have when I'd miss a Effexor dose.

Good Luck. It can be done!!!
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Effexor XR really sucks!  I can't find anyone that has good news about a reasonable time to have stopped the w/d symptoms.  A friend of mine just stopped this week and is about to lose her mind and she was only on it for 3 mos and took 1 1/2 of those to taper off to try to avoid the w/d. I am too scared to try to go off it especially since it really works for my anxiety!  I don't want to be on it forever though!  Does anyone have a good report?
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Sorry, no good news story here but I don't think you will find one.  I was on Effexor 150 for a year and started tapering in April.  I cut my 150 into a morning & evening dose of 75mg.  Then I started halfing each of them, 37.5 & 75, 37.5 & 37.5, 19 & 37.5 and just recently (last week) 19 & 19 - splitting a single capsule into 2.  Each reduction has led to several days of dizziness, sickness, brain zaps, memory loss.....you name it, I had it.  However I have found that ginger capsules have helped alot with the nausea and dizziness.  I have tried to keep at least a month in between each reduction and just hope and pray that by the time I am done that I won't need anything else, but if I do then I plan on trying the naturapathic way before I go back on any more pharmacuetical options.  Over the total of 4 years that I have been on meds (started by post partum depression after the birth of my second child) I have put on over 20 lbs, most of which appeared with the effexor.

Anyways, I just thought I would share my story, I am constantly looking for support and ideas on getting over the withdrawal and just hope that one day they take it off the market.
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My nickname is a bit presumptive because I have only been Effexor-free for a week, but I am going to stick it out. I took 225 mg QD for over 10 years, coming off has not been fun. My doctor and I are almost positive that I have ADHD and that the diagnosis of depression was wrong and that the Effexor has masked the ADHD for all these years. The 1st couple of days on nothing but Straterra were ALMOST as bad as my worse days of chemo years ago. My primary complaints are the electro-shock feeling, tinnitis, and a swooshing effect when I move my eyes (normally late at night). I also have a constant "high" feeling that hopefully is associated with the ADHD and will go away with the titration of the Straterra. I cannot concentrate on anything and feel perpetually "rushed". I am ready to get through this and move on............
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good for Ex!!
it is at least comforting to have each other in this forum.

the ringing in my ears is new for me, the anxiety makes me grouchier....the shock waves is annoying, and the tremors are still here, but, I am forever hopeful to be free!! and then, maybe I can work on sucessful weight loss!
hang in there...
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I have been on this drug for about 4-5 months. it really hasnt helped me at all!!
I saw someones post that they actually CRAVE alcohol...i thought it was just me getting worse...maybe its this medicine!
I decided to take myself off this drug and i am ending day 2, which has been hell.
how long does this last? the sick stomach, electric shocks....its HORRIBLE!
of course if i took another pill POOF it would all go away. this cant be good!
as long as there are no "risks" involved I want to stick this out. this medicine is not for me, i just know it. I want to try something better to help with my depression / anxiety. I am being tested for ADD also so who knows.
what is a good medicine to look into? ive been on prozac and it stopped working for me after 2yrs.
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Let me warn all of you people, who plan on just stopping this medication. Think of the consequences of your actions, not just the withdrawal symptoms of just stopping this medication, but serious mental problems can come after about a month or so after stopping this drug,they call it a relapse, but it was the worst thing I ever went through in life. I quit going to work, I thought I was being watched and everybody was setting me up, trying to make me do bad things, all i did was cry and lay on the couch I thought my husband put cameras in the house and he was watching me. I was so spaced out and could not even think straight, and one minute I would be laying there crying and the next minute I would bust out laughing, I twisted everything around in my head. And serious suicidal thoughts like never before. I know why people commit suicide now they are not in there right mind at the time, and what they think is happening is really in there head, its scarry what happened to me "PLEASE" do not stop this medicine cold turkey it took me three months to get back to normal. Its serious business and you could take your life. if you really want to stop this medicine ween yourself off or start taking zoloft or something else. From someone thats very scaired for you.
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Are you on anything now? How did you handle this so-called relapse? I went off paroxetine (Paxil, for example) after 5 months of weaning and after a couple of weeks became worse than I think I've ever been. It should be noted that I went off during a time of quite some pressure, unluckily, but anyways. I was hospitalized for the first time. I'm now on escitalopram (Lexapro, I think, for example), but I'd like to work myself towards lower and lower dosages of it during long time and hopefully one day be able to feel ok without it. I've recently started cognitive therapy, which I would like to have tried before starting medicating in the first place.
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re: "Craving Alcohol" - I have been on effexor xr for about 3 weeks now.  I started taking it because I was obsessing about everything and totally stressed out.  Before I started taking it I was self medicating myself with alcohol - wine (3/4 a bottle a night or every other night depending on the situation).  My psychologist suggested that I go back on anti-depressants (I have tried prozac and lexapro) and thought I would try effexor xr (after reading all these posts Im wondering if I should get off it).  Anyway, after starting the meds I started "craving" alcohol and was drinking 2 bottles of wine a night (I also wonder if I did not want to trust the effexor xr to take care of my obession/stress issues).  I couldn't believe I could get up the next morning and be able to function.  It actually kind of scared me, especially since alcohol is a depressant and Im on a anti-depressant...what am I doing to my brain?  So, I have stopped drinking for now to see if I can actually trust effexor xr to do its job with my obsession and stress.  I guess I will give it two weeks (me being alcohol free) and see how I feel.  Hopefully it works cause I don't think the alcohol was really helping either.
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Hey,
I am new to this and on week five of being weaned from Effexor 150mg.  Yes, I became an alcoholic on this drug.  I never was a serious drinker before. An occassional glass of wine or holiday parties...I became a bottle of wine or whatever alcohol I could get A NIGHT.  I have gained a good 20 pounds and drinking the alcohol was like quenching a thirst, I couldn't get enough.  The fat just packed on me like a layer of blubber (yukky but true) I never had stomach fat or hips, etc even after two children...so yey, it was a great revelation to see you talk about the alcohol.  I am still on Wellbutrin because I tend to get depression and I don't want to go through the holidays with nothing.  This has been the worst experience of my life.  How are you going now that you are completely off (?) antidepressants?
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A STRAIGHTFORWARD RESPONSE...to withdrawal from EffeXXXor (is 3 x's enough to signify that it is evil?)

Right, after lots of reading of other posts, in an effort to get answers to my own questions, I offer you the following observations which have no official medical or legal authority WHATSOEVER:

My History: One year of 150 mg Effexor XL daily. I had no previous history of depression, etc. This was prescribed as I was having difficulty coping after being hit by a car, hospitalised for two months, and struggling to deal with physiotherapy, pain and emotional aspects of a partial paralysis, etc. without a support structure (no family to speak of, had just relocated to another country and didn't know many people--my bad luck). In retrospect, I suspect that this drug is overprescribed, and a wee bit of counseling and practical support would have served me infinitely better.

Withdrawal: Having run out of meds one or two times prior (leaving me med-free for 24-48 hours) I had a decent perspective as to what life post-Effexor would be like. Immediately after missing a dose (within hours) I would have the onset of nausea/vomiting, severe sweating, hot/cold flashes and shakes. Due to financial difficulty, approximately a week ago I had to stop "cold turkey". Cue the circus and assorted withdrawal symptoms: nausea, sweating, dizziness, fatigue coupled with inability to sleep, inability to concentrate/brain fog, alternately crying at very cheesy telly plots/adverts and giggling fits relating to nothing. Lucky me, I'm sans significant other so the only person convinced I've lost the plot is the cat, and he loves me anyway...as long as I keep him in food and catnip.

Good news: After about 5 days the nausea is significant less. Not gone, but tolerable. Just don't push the envelope and go for a curry or anything. Other symptoms lessening as well, but not gone by a long-shot.

Bad news: Digestive chaos has headed south. Over-the-counter meds seem to help with this. A bit. Here's hoping southerly trend continues, as I don't mind if my legs aren't settled. The sweating is horrible and unpredictable. It isn't a glow a la Olivia Newton John in "Let's Get Physical"  but more along the lines of a walk-on actor in X-Files or Star Trek who is about to expire from a horrible interstellar disease. Not pretty, and very wet.

My observations (NOT suggestions, advice, or to be taken for anything other than what helped ME and ME ONLY).

1. Small snacks of the healthy variety (fruit, veg, cheese, etc). help with the nausea. And lots of water interspersed with 7-Up and Ginger Ale.

2. Consider what your mental health status was prior to even considering whether to stop meds--as I had no history of depression, etc. I felt relatively safe that I would only encounter physiological problems. I was WRONG--I am struggling with mood swings, etc. Therefore, if I were previously depressed, manic, angry, anxious, etc, prior to meds, I would not risk going off EfeXXXor without serious medical intervention and supervision.

3. It seems to me, as weird as it sounds, that having missed meds a few times prior to going cold turkey actually helped prep me for the withdrawal experience. My body eventually wasn't as quick to provide the withdrawal symptoms when I'd miss the meds for a day or two, and since the withdrawal full-stop, I think my body is acclimating faster. I only say this because I considered going back on the meds, just to taper off properly. Again, just in MY case, I think I might as well stay off, as things are slowly getting better. My point: I don't think tapering down to say 37.5 every other day would help much if one has never MISSED a dose.

4. I've not suffered from exceptional weight gain or loss, a strange craving for alcohol, eruption of fangs or any other symptoms others have described. So if you don't have the symptom straightaway, you're probably safe from getting it.

5. As I write this, with the exception of a giggle fit, I feel scarily normal. So there IS hope. And it has only been a week. If I never post again, it means I'm fine and things got better. After all, we'd ALL like to be somewhere other than on-line airing our issues and looking for hope and answers. I don't think it isn't the case that we all are doomed to a life on Effexor such that we can never get away from it.

With warmest wishes, prayers and hope for the lot of us,

Mad.at.them.eggs
(See "Cool Hand Luke" if you need an explanation)

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It is very comforting to read these postings because I would otherwise think I was an isolated case. But not the case.  Side effects are real: the leg cramps, the nightmarish dreams, the crying spells, the dizziness, the forgetfulness, the tinnitus, the bursts of energy and the hot flashes...I could go on.  After 5 years of use (beginning on the infamous 9/11 date), I've being weaning off the 75 mg of Effexor XR by taking half doses of 37.5 mg for one week and then using Picamillon every 4-6 hours around the clock.  This I read about on another posting board and it has seemed to help with the weaning off process. In addition, I supplement with Fish oil, B12, folic acid and lots of water. I also read on this posting board to stay away from chocolate and caffeine. Motion sickness pills help with the dizziness I read and an amino acid L-trytophen helps with the serotonin levels. Exericse is key. All this information is proving very helpful and I thank you guys for providing morale support during this trial.
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I'm very scared. I've been on effexor for a year.I'm recently moving back to chicago from Newyork. Insurance or medicade is free here so I was having a few problems and decided to go in for some mental help,of course I've been diagnosed with early depression as a teen(destymia)and was on prozac as a teen. I as an adult in my early twenties decided not to take anything in college,and found myself in my thirties after my Father,Sister,and brother died from cancer back in the same position.Depression again! crying spells,Alcohol ,weed,anything to stop the ansomnia,and the severe mood swings fighting with my boyfriend all the time and just never being satisfied with anything. Hostile for no reason having a mean streak and can't control my angry mouth. I couldn't focous either.So I'm a bit nervous because I've never been off the medication. But thinking maybe I can get off of it again,and become fairly normal! but you all are scaring me with all these stories. I need to know but I don't know which is bettre withdrwal if thats what I have to look forward to or still take the meds.I hope that I can have children but you can't take it either  once you are pregnant.So I hope that there is someone out ther that can relate to my story. Off or On wwhich could be bettr is ther a healthy alternitive?      comfused and scared!     applehead.
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I've read through several of these threads and feel a lot better knowing it is not just me with all the side effects, coming off effexor. One thing I am curious about is the weight gain. Since being on Effexor, I think I have gained about 75 pounds, although I never did the math until now. Once I get past this lethargy, I hope I will be able to get up, get out and do something.
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I too have recently (5 wks) stopped taking Effexor and have been going through a living hell. Some of the withdrawal symptoms, the diarrhea, whooshing sounds, lightning jolts, eye pain have decreased, but the lethargy, fogginess, crying spells, giddiness, sleeplessness & rage continue.

These comments posted by others are very helpful - until today I thought I WAS LOSING IT. Thank you for taking the time to post your experiences - it is very helpful!

Good luck to everyone in their ex-EffeXXXor days. RAH
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Hello
I am so happy I found this information..
Like everyone else I thought what I was feeling was rare..
apparently NOT!
I am not yet off this drug but am starting the process of weaning myself..YIKES.
i know that even when i miss one dose ..i feel those horrible electrical shocks, ravenous hunger, nausea, irritability. etc etc
but when i take the lovely brown pill POOF its gone..
i have been on since 2003 and although it has helped me thru some rough times, I have to admit I wish i researched the side effects before..
My doctor who is very wonderful but very misinformed on this drug used to shrug all my questions off..
she has added wellbutrin and I am thinking maybe i will wean off the effexor and stay on wellbutrin..
I am SOO happy to hear that the weight gain is from this drug ..well i am not happy BUT..i didnt know what was wrong with me..my eating habits are very good and i am active..so how come i keep gaining weight and not losing any..i have been so frustrated..
If anyone has been in this situation before..do u know once off this drug ..do i have a better chance of losing the extra pounds..
ALso i am soooooooo tired ...i can fall asleep anywhere..thats not a good feeling..
I hope everyone is coping and learning to love life again..
We can get thru it ...one day at a time.!
BLEss
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INFORMATION TO HELP:

I.) THE VARYING SYMPTONS OF WITHDRAWAL

II.) HOW TO TAPER OFF OF EFFEXOR

*****************************************************************
I.) THE VARYING SYMPTONS OF WITHDRAWAL:

PSYCHIATRIC SYMPTOMS:

That Mimic Depression
Crying spells, Worsened mood, Low energy (fatigue, lethargy, malaise); Trouble concentrating, Insomnia or trouble sleeping, Change in appetite, Suicidal thoughts, Suicide attempts


That Mimic Anxiety Disorders
Anxious, nervous, tense; Panic attacks (racing heart, breathless); Chest pain; Trembling, jittery, or shaking


Irritability and Aggression
Irritability, Agitation (restlessness, hyperactivity); Impulsivity, Aggressiveness, Self-harm, Homicidal thoughts or urges


Confusion and Memory Problems
Confusion or cognitive difficulties; Memory problems or forgetfulness


Mood Swings
Elevated mood (feeling high), Mood swings, Manic-like reactions


Hallucinations
Auditory hallucinations, Visual hallucinations


Dissociation
Feeling detached or unreal


Other
Excessive or intense dreaming, Nightmares



MEDICAL SYMPTOMS:

That Mimic the Flu
Flu-like aches and pains, Fever, Sweats, Chills, Runny nose, Sore eyes


That Mimic Gastroenteritis
Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Abdominal pain or cramps, Stomach bloating


Dizziness
Disequilibrium; Spinning, swaying, lightheaded; Hung over or waterlogged feeling, Unsteady gait, poor coordination, Motion sickness


Headache


Tremor


Sensory Abnormalities
Numbness, burning, or tingling; Electric zap-like sensations in the brain; Electric shock-like sensations in the body, Abnormal visual sensations, Ringing or other noises in the ears, Abnormal smells or tastes


Other
Drooling or excessive saliva, Slurred speech, Blurred vision; Muscle cramps, stiffness, twitches; Feeling of restless legs, Uncontrollable twitching of mouth.

      VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

II.) HOW TO TAPER OFF OF EFFEXOR

I have taken Effexor and my highest dose was 150mg XR/once a day (extended release capsules) for 1 1/2 years; I have been tapering for 8 months and I'm now at 28.06mg/for the day (using tablets).  I have had minimal withdrawal to this point and I attribute that to the *very slow* tapering and cutting doseage's at a rate between 5-10% (and no more than that) each time.


Now for the how to's:

Instead of counting out granules (which really isn't accurate as granule capsule contents vary anywhere from 105 - 124 granules per capsule), use Effexor immediate release tablets.  The only difference is that you will take one half of your tablet dose in the morning and twelve hours later take the second half of your dose.  

Effexor tablets come in:  100mg, 75mg, 50mg, 37.50mg, and 25mg.  You can purchase a "pill splitter" from any pharmacy--the cost about $4.00 (american money) and split your pills in half, quarters, and even eigths--(with a little practice for the 1/8s).  Splitting tablets will enable you to have more control stepping done your medication.  When I got to a dose that is in between one of the tablet sizes listed above, I respectfully requested from my doctor a prescription of two different amounts of tablets.  If you are at 150mg Effexor XR, then ask for a prescription of 50mg tablets and 37.50mg tablets.  Purchase a pill splitter at any pharmacy ($4.00).

Start out by taking the exact amount you are on now so that your body can adjust to your new dosing schedule.  Here's how:

--Take one 50mg in the morning + 25mg (split one 50mg in half) = 75mg
--12 hours later take one 50mg + 25mg = 75mg
--75mg + 75mg = 150mg for the day
**Do this for two weeks and then start your tapering.**


Always take 5-10% of your last doseage amount, subtract that amount from your last doseage amount = your new doseage amount.



TO BEGIN TAPERING:
--150mg x 10% = 15mg

--150 - 15mg = 137.50mg

Take one 50mg + 18.75mg (cut one 37.50mg in half) = 68.75mg

--12 hours later take one 50mg + 18.75mg = 68.75mg

--68.75mg + 68.75mg = 137.50mg for the day

STAY AT THIS AMOUNT FOR ONE (1) MONTH - your brain chemistry needs to adjust.


**The next time you make a cut you will take 5-10% of 137.50mg**

**Always stay at your new doseage until you stablize--one month at the very least.**

*WHEN CUTTING YOUR PILLS*  of differing milligrams, have some empty, clean, prescription bottles that are labeled (for example 18.75mg, 12.50mg, 9.37mg, 6.25mg, 4.66mg, etc.) so that you don't get them mixed up.  As you cut smaller amounts it gets harder to distinguish what is what--the labeled bottles will keep you straight. Just be sure to put the correct amounts in the correct bottles!

*DON'T BE SUPRISED* as you get lower and lower on your dose that you may need more than 3-4 weeks to stablize; remember your brain is going through a HUGE change--give it the chance to even out.  It's not important how long it takes to taper from dose to dose, it matters that you take your time!

*ALWAYS* take Effexor with food in your stomach and drink plenty of water.

Do *NOT* eat or drink anything containing GRAPFRUIT, it can create a serious toxic reaction.


*NEVER, EVER* take St. John's Wort or 5-HTP--they have a serotonin in them.  Mixing them with an anti-depressant or taking then after you've been off of an anti-depressant for only a year of less can lead to SEROTONIN SYNDROME - a toxic and deadly condition.   Click on the following link to find out about it:  http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/serotonin-syndrome-ADF.htm
  

*NEVER, EVER* take Effexor or any anti-depressant every other day--withdrawal will start and you will never get back on an even keel.  I know, I know your doctor told you to do this, but MOST doctors are truely ignorant of the hell they are about to put you through doing this.  If you are currently on this program get back to taking your dose everyday and after you are stabilized you can start your tapering.


*PLEASE TAKE THE TIME* to visit these webpages; they have critical and very helpful information for tapering:

http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/reaction.htm

http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/taper.htm


The best to everyone,

Sweettooth



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Hi I have been on effexor for 6 weeks now. Started at 75 mg in am and 37.5 pm.  Dr increased it to 150mg and then I began to get eye pain, teary eyes tired eyes.  I also got the chills, sweats, but the most thing that bothers me is the eyes.  Dr also put me on Paxil 25mg but increased it to 37.5 and decreased the effexor to 150mg. I have experienced chills muscle spasms, weakness, trouble staying asleep.  I cant tolderate this eye thing I have and Im worried that I will have this forever.  My pharmasist said that if this side effect didnt go away yet it probably wont.  I want to reduce the dosage of effexor.  Do you think that will help the eye thing?  One week after the Doctor increased my effexor to 150mg is when my eyes started tearing and hurting.  Im afraid I will stay like this... I have generalized anxiety disorder.  I have been on prozac and lexapro and never had this side effect.  My Doctor says he is reluctant to reduce the effexor dosage.  If im on paxil together with effexor will this lessen my withdrawrals if doctor takes me off effexor?  Im so scared of anxiety.
Thanks guys,
Monica
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Your post says:

"Hi I have been on effexor for 6 weeks now. Started at 75 mg in am and 37.5 pm. Dr increased it to 150mg".

"Dr also put me on Paxil 25mg but increased it to 37.5 and decreased the effexor to 150mg"

Did the doctor increase Effexor to an amount higher than 150mg the first time and you just typed the wrong amount?  Because in your second sentence you say he decreased it to 150mg.

You do need to decrease your Effexor since you were having a reaction in your eyes; it's not agreeing with you.

That doctor is an idiot; you shouldn't be taking two anti-depressants at the same time--you could develop "Serotonin Syndrome" which is a condition of having too much serotonin in your system--it can be fatal within 24 hours.

I know how you feel about anxiety because I've had it too.  Have you tried cognitive therapy?

If you were on Prozac and Lexapro, why are you taking Effexor and Paxil?

Sweettooth
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You do need to decrease your Effexor since you were having a reaction in your eyes; it's not agreeing with you.

That doctor is an idiot; you shouldn't be taking two anti-depressants at the same time--you could develop "Serotonin Syndrome" which is a condition of having too much serotonin in your system--it can be fatal within 24 hours.

I know how you feel about anxiety because I've had it too. Have you tried cognitive therapy?

If you were on Prozac and Lexapro, why are you taking Effexor and Paxil?

HI sweettooth,There are manypeople who are on 2 antidepressants.  He put me on paxil 25mg because I was still alittle anxious even after being on effexor for a few weeks.  Serotonin syndrom (syndrome).. That scares me!  Do you think I have that?  I am in coignitive therapy now.  I was on prozac about 4 yrs ago was on it for 10 yrs. My physician switched me to lexapro because I was getting anxiety.  I should have been under a psychiatrists care but I wasnt.  Took lexapro for 3 yrs. I was still getting anxiety attacks at times and I at times got the jults when I was falling asleep.  I was going thru a really rough time with anxiety attacks about 7 weeks ago and found this psychitrist.  He put me on effexor 75mg in the am and 37.5 in the pm.  after a week he increased it to 225mg in the am because I was having trouble sleeping.  after 3or 4 weeks he started me on paxil 25mg. and the following week i was doing much better but still had the eye problem.  Then I had stress in my life and I had a set back... So Dr increased the paxil to 37.5 and decreased the effexor to 150mg.  Got more side effects like chills, aches, muscles spasms, weakness, dizziness.  The pharmasist said it would probably go away.  I dont know if the eye problem will go away even if the dosage is reduced.  This is getting me more nervous just thinking that this eye problem will never go away even if he takes me off the effexor.  I am still having anxietybut not really the panic attacks I was having.  I was a mess!  
     I also asked a pharmasist about the grapefruit eating while on effexor and he said it was ok.  My sister in law tells me not to read or talk to anyone about the drugs im on because I will get more anxious.  She is right!  I can t help it though.  Sometimes I think I feel dizzy and drunk because Im making myself anxious.  How long before side effects go away? I dont know if I am still having side effects or its my anxiety making me feel this way.  Thank MOnica
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what were you on the effexor for?   Depression, Bipolar what?
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